Trial Date Set for District Elections Lawsuit in Anaheim

A year after advocates rallied at Anaheim city hall for single-member districts, an Orange County Superior Court judge set a trial date today in a lawsuit over the issue.

The ACLU, on behalf of plaintiffs Jose F. Moreno, Amin David and Consuelo Garcia (remember her?), alleges that the current at-large electoral system for city council politically disenfranchises Latinos.

Judge Franz Miller ordered up a March 17, 2014 date for a trial over the question. Before that, his courtroom will hear arguments on October 1, 2013 by attorneys representing the city of Anaheim who seek to have the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit dismissed.

With a picket last week outside of city hall demanding no fake districts, the council majority went on to approve, by a 3-2 vote, an ordinance to adopt a hybrid districts scheme where candidates would have a residency requirement, but still be elected by the at-large method.

After a lengthy Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) process that brought forth numerous recommendations before the council, Anaheim voters, in addition to the question of residency based districts, will also decide next June whether or not to increase the size of the council from 4 to 6 members.

They won't, as was recommended by the CAC, be voting on whether or not a single-member district system shall be put in place in favor of at-large elections.

Despite that, proponents of single-member districts are pleased by today's development. "I'm happy that we are going to get our day in court," says Martin Lopez, a former CAC member who is also with UNITE HERE Local 11.

Although he's frustrated with the overall duration of the process, Lopez is thankful that the trial date was set in March before the June ballot initiatives.

"I know the change to single-member districts is going to happen, but the only question is when?"

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

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